Museum Blog

Largest Bird Ever!: Zoology Object of the Week (April 18, 2011)

Posted 4/17/2011 12:04 AM by John Demboski | Comments
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Shown next to a ruby-throated hummingbird nest with eggs, is an intact elephant bird egg.  The flightless elephant bird (Aepyornis sp.), endemic to Madagascar, was the largest bird ever known clocking in at 500-1000 pounds and reaching about 10 feet high.  The egg above is about 12 inches long, the makings for quite an omelette!

Now extinct, elephant birds were ratities, a group of large flightless birds that includes the living ostrich, emu, rhea, cassowary, and kiwi.  Elephant birds had pretty much disappeared by the mid-1600's possibly due to overhunting or disease.

DMNS has two intact elephant bird eggs, one of which is currently on display in the Prehistoric Journey permanent exhibition.  The eggs are part of the Oology Collection which numbers about 7,500 egg sets, the majority of them 100+ years old.

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